Governance is a very broad term. It can be defined as the way in which policy makers are empowered to make decisions, the way decisions are made, formulated and implemented or not implemented, and the extent to which governmental discretion is allowed to encroach on the rights of citizens. The term ‘governance’ has wider meaning and implications than the term ‘government’. Government refers to machinery and institutional arrangement of exercising the power for serving the interest of the political community whereas governance means the process of decision making and the process by which the decisions are implemented.
Good governance is associated with efficient and effective administration in a democratic framework. Good governance, as it pertains to a nation, handles its people to lead peaceful, orderly, reasonable, prosperous and participatory lives. Thus, good governance involves high level of organizational efficiency and effectiveness for responding in a compassionate way in order to achieve the predetermined desirable goals of society. In India, the idea of good governance was strongly propounded by the star BJP campaigner and prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi. The idea was to create an atmosphere where people would show some faith towards the person in power. Even the United Nations has expounded the characteristics of ‘Good Governance’. Some of the characteristics which are expounded by both the United Nations and the current Prime Minister of India:
Accountability is a key requirement of good governance. Not only government institutions but the private sector and civil society organizations must be made accountable to the public and to their institutional stakeholders. Who should be accountable to whom, varies, depending on whether decisions taken or actions performed are internal or external to an organization or institution. In general, an organization or an institution is accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions or actions. Accountability cannot be enforced without transparency and the rule of law.
There are several actors and as many viewpoints in a given society. Good governance requires mediation of the different interests in society to reach a broad consensus on what is in the best interest of the whole community and how this can be achieved. It also requires a broad and long-term perspective on what is needed for sustainable human development and how to achieve such development.
- Effectiveness and Efficiency
Good governance means that processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs of society while making the best use of the resources at their disposal. The concept of efficiency in the context of good governance also covers the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of environment.
- Equity and Inclusiveness
A society’s well-being depends on ensuring that all its members feel that they have a stake in it and do not feel excluded from the mainstream hooplah. This requires that all groups, particularly the most vulnerable, have opportunities to improve or maintain their well-being.
Participation of both men and women is a cornerstone of good governance. It could be either direct or through legitimate intermediate institutions or representatives. Participation needs to be informed and organized, which requires freedom of association and expression and an organized civil society.
Governance requires that institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe. If there has been a public discourse brought up to any of the organs or institutions of the government, then the government machinery must be sound enough to redress the discourse and act quickly in accordance to the procedure laid down without any unnecessary and unwarranted delays.
- Rule of law
Good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially. It also requires full protection of human rights, particularly those of minorities. Impartial enforcement of laws requires an independent judiciary and an impartial and honest police force.
Transparency means that decisions made and their enforcement are achieved in a manner that follows rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement.
The very process of development and change in India may be generating new forms of social and economic competition that manifest themselves in terms of social bias. The theory of good governance could be tested by examining whether it successfully helps to remove the stigma of social bias in the society. It is loudly propounded by various political parties that solidarity is the key to development but in the race of development, we have greatly ignored the internal differences that would hamper and jeopardize the growth and the fruits of development would not be shared and enjoyed by everyone. Popular debate around social biases in India is structured around two competing narratives. One view holds that as an urbanizing country with rapid economic growth over the past few decades, the importance of identities such as caste and religion is generally eroding. An opposing view holds that these biases have remained resilient in India, even in the face of substantial economic development and increasingly heterogeneous cities. Yet, such a simple dichotomy understates the complexity in characterizing social biases in India .New forms of bias may emerge while other forms fade away. While social biases often result from prejudice and chauvinism, they may also result from legitimate apprehensions about or threats from, other social groups.
The proper implementation of the promises and actual good governance could only help the society save itself from these horrors and would help to create a mutual feeling of trust and affection towards one another, i.e., solidarity which would help in the strong and vibrant nation building, as dreamt by our forefathers. India, as we all are aware, is one the most diverse nations in the world consisting of people belonging to different religions, castes, ethnic groups, etc. and it is wholly on us, on how we make use of such a vast diversity. Either the effective result of good governance would attach us and bring us closer to each other or the horrors of social biases will detach us eternally.
About the Author
Shreyan Acharya is currently pursuing his B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies. Being a law student, he tries to explore different fields in law and is inclined toward research, which he feels, helps in upgrading his intellect. Besides this, he is into sports, which augments his interest in Sports Law, thus keeping him focussed on the field he wants to pursue a career in. Currently, he is interning at the Model Governance Foundation.